Five Ways to Protect Your Intellectual Property

The intellectual property you create is a vital asset. However, creating and maintaining a durable intellectual property portfolio can be costly. Many sophisticated entrepreneurs or business leaders forgo prioritizing protection of such intellectual property because it is often perceived as just another inessential expenditure, rather than a shrewd, strategic investment. Some overlook protecting their intellectual property because they are unsure about the ultimate profitability of their "protectable" ideas. Others are regrettably unmindful of the fact that some may attempt to copy or steal their intellectual property.

Whereas the age-old adage "the best defense is a strong offense" unequivocally applies to the field of intellectual property, it is critical to understand that intellectual property can be employed in both defensive and offensive situations. Therefore, investing a small sum to build up your intellectual property defense now will pay off in the long run, if you ever have to defend it. Plus, this investment will make your intellectual property more valuable.

Below are some examples of how to initiate protection of your intellectual property assets:

  • Educate yourself on the basics of copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and patents.
  • Identify all of your registered and unregistered copyrights and trademarks, as well as any possible trade secrets.
  • Identify all of your patentable technology including products as well as business processes. With today's first-to-file system, the sooner you file a patent application, the better – as such an application holds your place in line.
  • Ensure that any written contract or agreement (including employment and manufacturing agreements) thoroughly and explicitly protects (and defines ownership of) your intellectual property.
  • Contact Walter | Haverfield to learn about what means of protection may be available to protect your brand(s), product(s), know-how, original work(s), etc.

Properly protecting intellectual property is a valuable process; it is wise to undertake proactive measures to safeguard your intellectual property now to avoid costly defense later.

Kevin Soucek is an attorney at Walter | Haverfield who focuses his practice on intellectual property. He can be reached at ksoucek@walterhav.com or 216-619-7885.